Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Wish They All Could Be California Punks
California became the 31st state on September 9, 1850 - the Gold Rush of 1849 hastened the admission, and people have been coming to "The Golden State" in droves ever since. They seek beauty in our rugged terrain, our oceans, deserts and vineyards, as well economic, social and educational opportunities - or so the Department of Parks would have you believe.
The gold in them thar hills of Northern California, from Sacramento to the San Francisco Bay may have brought the area its first influx of new residents... and the Dust Bowl conditions during the Great Depression drove folks from the Great Plains to the West in search of greener pastures... but the celebrity wannabes have always been attracted to Southern California.
The glitz and the glamour of any fancy place is almost always built on the backs of its original citizens... and in California's case, it is the Mexicans. The history of California and its Native, Spanish and Mexican beginnings is a whole area of study on its own... with interesting parallels to the politics of today. But its too egg-headed for punk rock (but the Native, Spanish and Mexican cultures certainly did inform punk rock art plenty!)
The lure of the movie industry in the early part of the 20th Century was a huge attraction, and with one aspect of show biz, there was always the other - the music biz. Wannabe rock stars and crooners alike made their way to the land of plenty of surf and sun.
Belinda Carlisle & friends in front of the Whisky a Go Go
Where else but Los Angeles could sitting outside a night club be an actual social thing? Like any big city and show biz mecca, you never know who you'd see!
Malcolm McLaren & Johnny Rotten, walking away from the Whisky a Go Go, same night as above
The Sunset Strip, famous for its night life and geographical position between Hollywood and Beverly Hills, had back in the punk rock days the Whisky a Go Go as its central anchor.
The State of California has been the birthplace or growing up place of many influential punk rockers, so today, on California's 158th anniversary as part of the USA, here's a pictoral tribute, starting with me and my two lifelong friends:
Pleasant Gehman, Lance Loud and me - all Californians, though Lance didn't move here til he was 6... he did however put Santa Barbara on the map well before "Sideways" did!
photo by the late, great Herb Wrede, courtesy of Trudie Arguelles
Germs frontman, Darby Crash
BFF's as the kids say today - Kid Congo Powers and Pleasant
Greg Shaw, center, flanked but Midwesterners Frank Secich and Stiv Bators
Penelope Houston & Rodney Bingenheimer
California's contribution to punk rock is just too huge... yes, I've left out tons of people... there's just not enough room.
During my school years - from grade school through high school, we used to get this day off - a State holiday! I don't think they observe it anymore... and school also starts in August, which is a total rip off of summer vacation. So many reasons to be thankful for being born in the 50s! The 1950's and the 1850s.
Next time you are listening to the otherwise fantastic Clash song I'm So Bored With the USA just remember that UK punk rock kings, Sex Pistols Johnny Rotten and Steve Jones live in Los Angeles!
UK Expats - Rotten & Jones... living in LA!
and so does Billy Idol, a poster boy for London punk rock if ever there was one!
Idol on Melrose
Finally, from the Beatles of punk - The Ramones -- Dee Dee and Johnny are buried in LA, so they're LA punks forever.